Things that, perhaps inexplicably, made me laugh
Some jokes or dumb things I remember that have made me laugh out loud through the years, some completely out of context since I don’t remember what led up to them, others explained as much as possible:
Q: What’s better than farting on the toilet?
A: Buying bologna. (Amos McCannell)
Okay: The “bus administrator” at my school had a beard, and was kind of goofy, so my friends and I named him Beard. I ended up drawing comics about Beard’s adventures, many of which were pretty funny if I do say so myself. The real Beard never really did anything funny that we saw. Anyway, my brother’s best friend at the time (1989-90), Lucas McCannell, really took a liking to Beard, and he and his younger brother, Amos, attempted to draw their own Beard comics for fun. Lucas’ were technically more compentent, but Amos’ were a lot funnier, because you could tell he was putting absolutely no effort into them, as evidenced by the above “joke”, which appeared on a page that featured a huge drawing of Beard’s head, with a completely serious look on his face that didn’t go with his confounding riddle one iota. It really struck me funny, and I laughed until my head hurt so bad.
UPSETTING ADDENDUM: Later in life (2000) I very briefly managed a small video store in Brewer, and one day who should walk in but Beard! And what should he rent but “Chicks With Dicks Vol. 12”! I highly doubt he recognized me, but it was very hard to remain calm throughout the transaction. Beard became a semi-regular renter, and after awhile it got to the point where it was almost old hat. Then one sunny weekend morning, Beard sidled into the store, in a suit no less, and made his usual beeline for the porn closet. A good half hour or so went by, and as such I totally forgot he was in there. At that point he’d probably pretty well exhausted our modest selection. So in walks this nicely dressed, confused-looking woman who asks “Is my husband in here?” Having no clue who she is, and the store otherwise being empty, and me having forgotten the presence in the porn room, I say no. “Well, that’s strange, because his car is parked right outside.” I mention that perhaps he is in the neighboring Subway, and she starts to go outside to check. However, the owner of the store happens to be puttering around the store, and he runs out and very considerately tells the woman that there is someone in the “adult section”, could that be her husband? At which point Beard very unhappily tiptoes out of the naughty nook, and his wife proceeds to completely tear him a new one for getting sidetracked by tranny porn while en route to a funeral. Meanwhile I sat at the counter and quietly had an out-of-body experience.
“A man who’s feeling kind of blue walking into a room and being sharply harmed!” (Joe Basler)
I don’t even remember what got my friend Joe started on this, but he can get on an increasingly unhinged fantastical tangent like no one I know, stretching something unfunny out so far that it becomes hilarious. I was on the floor trying not to choke to death after he said this, but I have no idea what it meant or what led to it. Joe has said millions of hilarious things over the years that actually make sense, but this made me laugh the most. I wish I could remember why. No doubt we were horrifically inebriated at the time.
“Mr. Mowel!” (Matt Littlefield)
I’m chuckling even now, typing about this one, and it’s NOT FUNNY AT ALL. It’s simply my good friend Matt saying “Mr. Mowel” instead of “Mr. Owl”. From the Tootsie Roll Pop commercial, the how many licks one. Mr. Mowel. I laughed loudly for quite some time over Mr. Mowel, and I STILL think it’s funny, and there is quite simply nothing even approaching humor within it. I think I’m confused about what “funny” means, to be honest.
“We are gaaaaaaaay!” (Matt Littlefield)
Matt again, this time while we were at UMO, 1995 I’d say, walking by the union and hearing the Wilde Stein club singing a rousing tune, and this of course was what Matt imagined they most likely sang. Again, I think it was the complete lack of creativity involved that got me. Not trying is always funny.
“To Willett” (Matthew Clapp)
This is the first thing I can remember really finding funny, to the point where I was helpless with laughter without even really knowing why. I was in kindergarten, and at the time I rode to school with the neighbor’s kids, sometimes in their car and sometimes in ours. Anyway, it was Valentine’s Day, and Matthew, who was a couple years older than me, apparently had neglected to prepare all his valentines the night before, and was in a panic trying to finish them in the car. This was kind of funny in itself, as it involved someone other than myself having a difficult time with something they found important, but eventually I lost interest and stared out the window at whatever happened to be passing by. My daydreaming was interrupted by a hushed, very irritated groan, and I looked over to find that Matthew had addressed a valentine “To Willett”, instead of to “Miss Willett”, the school secretary. The idea of a kid casually addressing our grown-up secretary as “Willett”, coupled with Matthew’s overwrought anger at his mistake, somehow added up to the funniest thing I had ever seen in my entire life, and I unsuccessfully stifled my reaction to avoid angering him further, which of course didn’t work, and the rest of the trip consisted of Matthew repeatedly insisting that it wasn’t THAT funny while I laughed my ass off. And again, this is STILL 100% laugh out loud funny to me.
“I like cunt bread!” (Derrick Cameron)
Me and some friends were sitting around talking about our favorite kinds of bread for some reason, and Derrick (otherwise known as The Food) pipes up with this winning remark.
“When he eats chalk!” (Ted Taylor)
Ha ha ha! In high school, my friend Ken was way, way, way into professional wrestling (and eventually pursued a career in same). His favorite wrestler often changed, as is commonly the case for anyone who follows the shows, but quite often he sung the praises, literally, of Shawn Michaels. Michaels’ deal was that he considered himself a heartthrob, and was rather vain, so his theme song was a little ditty called “Sexy Boy”. One day while not studying in the library, Ken, Ted, and I were sitting at a table, and Ken began singing the song, which went something like “I like his moves/I like his walk/He looks so sexy” and then Ted gleefully interrupts with “When he eats chalk”. Again, that perfect combination of not funny with not trying, plus Ken’s irritation at the not terribly clever intrusion, equalled me totally losing it. So funny.
“Tom Williams the Leprechaun.” (Justin Stover)
This was the name of a story my brother wrote in second or third grade. I don’t know, something about it. I guess maybe I found it funny because ordinarily a kid writing a story for school about a leprechaun might choose to call it “Lucky” or, I don’t know, Greeny, but my brother decides to give him the most normal, inauspicious name ever.
“I know you! You’re the man who pissed in my ass when I was a boy!” (Justin Stover)
I hated my brother half the time when we were growing up, but I always had to admit that he was probably pound for pound the funniest person I knew. This was from a cartoon he drew, where a very happy man is pointing at another very happy man on the street, and saying this. Ridiculous.
Boy: We are going to die someday, father!
Dad: That’s right, son! (Justin Stover)
Another cartoon of Justin’s, with the above characters having that exchange. Again, both of them look extremely happy about their rather unsettling conversation. I still have these somewhere, I think.
“Once there was a little boy who learned how to say Christ.” (Justin Stover)
Ha ha haaaaa! Oh man. All right, so there was this one Christmas (1986?) where my dad was completely pissed off about everything. He probably didn’t have a job (the ’80s were not kind to my father, employmentwise), and he was grouchy all the time, and we never did anything he asked us to, which didn’t help. Anyway, being religious types, they always used to insist that we read the Christmas story, which we hated doing because we already knew the stupid story and as far as we were concerned, Jesus had nothing to do with Christmas, flush the damn Bible down the toilet and give us our presents already. But Dad kept blearily but angrily insisting, and then made the unwise move of forcing Justin to tell the Christmas story, and of course he wouldn’t cooperate. Eventually Dad and Justin come to some sort of agreement (I had a terrible cold so I was thankfully exempt from the narrative duties) where Justin could just tell a Bible story of some kind, not necessarily Christmas-related. So Justin very demurely sits down, prepares his thoughts, and announces the above title of his tale, and somehow it was so funny you wouldn’t even believe it. Dad gets mad because that’s not a real Bible story, Justin gets mad because Dad isn’t letting him make up his own story…somehow everyone calmed down and we actually got to open our presents. I got an awesome boom box, I think Justin might’ve gotten a cool ventriloquist dummy, and Dad got a job at a calculator store of some sort a few months later, so it all worked out for the best.
“You gotta go POT-TAAAAYYY?!?!” (Tony Cyrus)
Oh man, Mr. Cyrus. He was our band director. That year (1989, when all the funniest stuff happened) he was new, and we quickly learned that he had anger management problems, both due to a short fuse and a dorky, high-pitched voice that was impossible to fear or heed with any seriousness. So one day we’re all in band, apparently not paying attention to his liking, and then he yells at us that we’re all babies and unwisely angrily demands to know if we have to go to the bathroom using toddler vernacular, certainly not the best method of ensuring that your students stop laughing at you. There’s really no joy quite like endlessly baiting a clearly powerless teacher. He stuck it out and got to be pretty cool, but it was a rocky beginning.
“You wasted ten cents!” (Bart Stover)
Oh God, my dad. This was during another altercation with Justin, one of many. So it’s the 80’s, thus no job for Pappy, and we’re at the dinner table, where most problems tended to occur, and Dad is being cross with us for such mealtime missives as taking too much food, not eating everything on our plates, etc., and while he’s regaling us with this uninteresting information Justin, inadvertently I think, dumps 2/3 of the bottle of salad dressing onto his salad, causing Dad, with sincere anger and disappointment, yell “You wasted ten cents!”. The idea that our father could on sight mentally calculate the net worth of salad dressing amounts, much less be so passionate about so paltry a loss, was mind-bogglingly amusing. Even at the tender age of eight or nine, Justin’s cackling scoff of disbelief belied a sense of humor that made me very happy in times such as those. He wasted TEN CENTS!
“I’m gonna wipe my bottom with a nail!” (Bart Stover)
This was in the mid-late 90s, right before my dad decided to quit teaching school. As you may have guessed, he’d about had it with his occupation of choice, and he stated the above with utmost seriousness, as though it were the only logical solution to his woes. I was quite relieved when he instead opted for early retirement.
“Sorry kids: I do drugs!” (Matt Littlefield)
One day in our little hovel in York Village, Matt came out with Bill’s Kermit the Frog puppet and out of nowhere put on a hilarious impromptu performance of Kermit basically having an amphetamine-fueled nervous breakdown, at one point offering the simple but effective explanation above as an excuse for his behavior, which include speaking in a deafening high-pitched rasp that in no way sounded like Kermit the Frog then knocking a box of cereal off the shelf and emitting blood-curdling shrieks by way of apology. It was somewhat out of character for Matt (and Kermit) and one of the funniest things I ever saw him do, out of many.
“Foo! No relish for me!” (Anne Stover)
We were at the Portland Mall in 1990 and there was a hot dog stand outside, and my mom bought a hot dog but forgot to get relish and very heatedly made the above complaint. Again, condiment mishaps + beleaguered parents = uncontrollable hilarity.
Sadly, the last time I can remember really enjoying and enduring a genuine prolonged belly laugh was at something in the movie “Another Stakeout”. I wish I were lying about that. Someone do something funny! Well, until that happens, I can think of any of the above little moments and for one reason or another they all still crack me up.